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MathType Tip: Advanced Techniques for Adding Equations and Symbols to Word Documents: Part II

In our previous Tip, Advanced Techniques for Adding Equations and Symbols to Word Documents - Part I, you saw an overview of AutoFormat, AutoText, and AutoCorrect, and how to use them effectively with MathType. If you haven't worked through that Tip yet, we suggest holding off on this one until you've completed the prerequisite. If you are prepared to master the advanced features of automatic correction, read on. In this article, we will consider only the latter two automatic correction features: AutoText and AutoCorrect.

Note: In addition to assuming you have completed the previous Tip, we will assume you are familiar with basic Windows or Macintosh features, including selecting and copying objects, finding files on your computer using either My Computer or Windows Explorer (Macintosh – Macintosh HD or Sherlock), and re-naming files.

This Tip addresses these topics:

  1. Advanced AutoText uses
    1. Inserting AutoText entries as Word Field Codes
    2. Using AutoText with drawing objects and clip art
  2. Exchanging AutoText and AutoCorrect lists with colleagues
  3. Example

We recommend printing this Tip to make it easier to work through the steps given in the examples below.

Advanced AutoText uses

In the initial article in this series, you learned about the AutoText feature in Microsoft Office, and some suggestions for when and how to use it. In this section, we expand on that information, and discuss further uses of AutoText.

You may recall that one of the major differences between AutoText and AutoCorrect is that with AutoText you have the option of whether to make the replacement, but with AutoCorrect the replacement is made immediately upon typing a word terminator. Word needs at least the first four characters to recognize an AutoText entry, and as soon as it recognizes an entry as unique, a pop-up will appear offering to make the substitution. If you had an AutoText entry named Dodge City KS and another entry named Dodge Grand Caravan, Word would wait until you typed "dodge c" (without the quotes) before it offered to substitute. Even though that's 7 characters, Word needs that many characters in this case to identify the entry as unique. Here is how it would look:

 would be replaced with  
AutoText example as seen in Word 2002 & 2003. Earlier versions of Word do not say "(Press ENTER to Insert)"

Notice capitalization isn't critical in the text string you type. In other words, in the above example you could type either "dodge c" or "Dodge C" (or even "Dodge c" or "dodge C"), and Word would recognize this as an AutoText entry.

In our previous article, we offered some suggestions as to when AutoText may be more attractive than AutoCorrect:

  • AutoText is better if you don't want to replace every instance of the text.
  • AutoText lists are effective in all Office applications, but AutoCorrect is specific to Word. (FrontPage does not allow automatic corrections.)
  • An AutoText entry may be inserted into the document as a field, which allows for easy updating if the contents change.

It is this last feature of AutoText that makes it attractive for technical papers. For example, if you need to replace every instance of the word perpendicular with the word orthogonal, this can be done by inserting an AutoText field, revising the AutoText entry, then updating the fields in the document. We discuss this in more detail below. (In this case, using AutoText would be overkill, since the same thing can more easily be accomplished by selecting Replace from the Edit menu.) In the next section, we give an example of replacing one limit with another limit in a quiz. In Example 1, we consider another situation in which AutoText may be the easiest way to make a global search and replacement.

Inserting AutoText entries as Word Field Codes

Let's say you were preparing two separate quizzes on limits. For the first quiz all of the limits will be as x approaches zero, and for the second quiz all of the limits will be as x approaches infinity. Other than this one change, the questions will be identical. Work through these steps as we see how we can use AutoText to make our job easier. (Both this example and Example 3 at the end of the article are typical secondary-level examples. If your level of math is simpler or more advanced than this, the examples can still prove useful as a guide to show how to use AutoText with MathType.)

Note: The first 5 steps are identical to those given in the previous article, and are repeated here for your convenience. Step 6 looks identical, but read carefully because it's different.

Setting up the AutoText entry:

  1. Insert a MathType equation into your document.
\mathop {\lim }\limits_{x \to 0}
  1. Select the equation by clicking on it once.
  1. From the Tools menu, select AutoCorrect Options...
  1. In the AutoCorrect dialog, select the AutoText tab.
  1. Notice the equation is already inserted into the Preview window. (There is no way to paste an object into the Preview window. The object is there because you selected it in step 2 above.)
  1. Type the replacement text in the "Enter AutoText entries here:" window. In this case, we will just call it "limx", since for one quiz it will represent "the limit as x approaches 0" and for another quiz it will represent "the limit as x approaches infinity". The name needs to be the same for both quizzes.
  1. Click Add; the AutoCorrect dialog closes.

Entering the AutoText entry as a field code in Word:

  1. To enter the MathType object into your document as a field code, from the Insert menu in Word, select Field. You will see a list of Field Names. Choose AutoText, then choose the AutoText you want from the list at right. (If you don't see a list of AutoTexts on the right, but instead see something like this:

    click the Hide Codes button at the bottom left of the Field dialog.) Click OK, and Word inserts the MathType object and returns you to your document.
  1. Once the replacement is made, either continue typing or insert another object. In this case, you'll need to insert the expression you want your students to take the limit of.
\mathop {\lim }\limits_{x \to 0} \frac{{{x^2} - 4}}{x}
  1. If you want to verify that Word inserted the object as an AutoText field instead of as an object, press Alt+F9. You should see this: { AUTOTEXT limx \* MERGEFORMAT }
  1. (If you pressed Alt+F9 in the previous step, press it again to hide the field codes in your document.) Save your document when complete, and print it. Now you're ready to change the limits. Insert a MathType object for "the limit as x approaches infinity". (It's not important where you insert it. It's probably best if you insert it in a new document.)
  1. Now select it and name it as you did in Steps 2 through 6 above. Be sure to name it "limx", just like you did in Step 6. When you click Add, Word will ask if you want to re-define the AutoText entry. Of course you do, so click Yes. Word returns you to your document.
  1. Now you're ready to replace all the occurrences of \mathop {\lim }\limits_{x \to 0} with \mathop {\lim }\limits_{x \to \infty } . Select all the text and equations in your document. (The easy way to do this is to use the keyboard shortcut for "Select All" – Ctrl+A, or on the Mac, Cmd+A.) Now press the F9 key and the replacements are made! Click Convert Equations in Word's MathType menu to correct the vertical alignment of the replaced equations.

Using AutoText with drawing objects and clip art

Although this section doesn't directly address using AutoText with MathType, one way to use AutoText is to insert a graph or object created in Word and labeled with MathType. We cover a fairly generic situation below, but the procedure may be applied to many specific situations.

In addition to text and MathType objects, AutoText can also be used with clip art, Word AutoShapes, or other objects. For example, if you create a 3-4-5 right triangle using Word's AutoShapes, you may choose to insert the triangle with an AutoText replacement string of 3-4-5. There is one critical change that must be made to the object before Word will let you enter it into the AutoText lists. The object must first be made an inline (i.e., not "floating") object. A MathType equation is automatically non-floating, so there is nothing to change for MathType objects. For drawing objects, such as clip art and AutoShapes, you can follow the simple procedures below to insert the object into the document. We will use the example of a 3-4-5 right triangle.

Note: To add Microsoft Draw objects (AutoShapes) to AutoText using versions of Word earlier than Word 2002 for Windows, or if you're using any version of Word for Macintosh, you must first insert the object into a frame or text box. If you are unsure how to do this, refer to your Help file or manual. If you are using one of these earlier versions of Word, you may still add Clip Art and MathType objects to your AutoText list without using a text box.

Creating the drawing:

  1. If the Drawing toolbar is not visible, add it to your Word toolbars by selecting
    View > Toolbars > Drawing.
  1. On the Drawing toolbar, select AutoShapes.
  1. Under Basic Shapes, select Right Triangle.
  1. The cursor will appear as crosshairs:
  1. Holding down the mouse button, drag until you get approximately the desired shape. Don't worry about the exact dimensions of the triangle; we will adjust it later.
  1. Pointing to the middle of the triangle, click the right mouse button (Macintosh, Ctrl+click), and select Format AutoShape (or Format Object) from the menu.
  1. In the Format AutoShape dialog, select the Layout tab and click "In line with text". (Early versions of Word have a checkbox labeled "Float over text". Make sure this box is not checked. If the checkbox is "grayed out", you probably haven't inserted the object into a frame or text box yet.) Before you click OK, we need to re-dimension the triangle...
  1. Select the Size tab. Enter 3 cm for the Height and 4 cm for the Width. If you have your default dimensions set to inches, be sure to type cm, otherwise Word will make a 3"4"5" triangle. This will be the correct proportion, but you probably don't want one that large. Click OK.
  1. You now have a 3cm 4cm 5cm triangle in your document. It should still be selected. (You can tell it's selected by the presence of the 8 "re-sizing handles" around the edge of the triangle. The green circle at the top is for rotating the triangle.)

Entering the drawing into your AutoText list:

  1. With the triangle still selected, select AutoCorrect Options from the Tools menu. Select the AutoText tab. Notice there is an asterisk in the "Enter AutoText entries here" window. Type
    3-4-5. (There is no need to delete the asterisk first. Since it is selected when the AutoText tab opens, it will be replaced when you type 3-4-5.) Click Add.
  1. Let's try it out. Delete the triangle from your Word document, then type 3-4-5. As soon as you type the second hyphen, Word will offer to replace your string with the triangle. Press the the Enter key, the Tab key, or F3 (Windows only) to make the replacement.

  1. Once the triangle is inserted, you can re-size it by dragging one of the corners. If you press the Shift key as you drag a corner, the proportions will be retained, and it will remain a 3-4-5 triangle, no matter what size you make it. Be sure not to drag one of the "re-sizing handles" on the sides, since the triangle's proportion will not be retained. Be sure to release the mouse button before the Shift key. If you release the Shift key first, the triangle's proportion will not be retained.

Exchanging AutoText and AutoCorrect lists with colleagues

Saving AutoText lists is fairly straightforward, but Microsoft Word saves two types of AutoCorrect entries – formatted entries and entries without formatting. AutoCorrect entries that were saved without formatting are stored in a file ending in .acl (such as MSO1033.acl), while formatted entries are saved with the Normal template ( Whenever you save MathType equations in an AutoCorrect entry, they are saved as formatted entries. We cover both methods here, and include an Example in the next section.

Exchanging AutoText lists

The best way to exchange an AutoText list is to save the document as a separate template. Follow these simple steps:

  1. After you complete your document and save it, delete everything in the document so that it's totally blank.
Suggestion: Press Ctrl+A, then Delete.
  1. In the File menu, select Save As.
  1. Save as a template, rather than a document. Make the name suggestive of the contents. "" and "" are good names.
  1. Whenever you create a new document based on this template, all the AutoText entries will become part of the new document. It's important that you select New from the File menu. Do not click on the "New Blank Document" icon, as shown at the right. Doing so will create a new document based on the Normal template,, and not the template you created above.
  1. This template can also be transferred to another computer or given to a colleague. It's easy to thus transfer AutoText entries from one computer to another.

  2. It's important to note that if you create a document this way (say, create first_period_test.doc based on the template), the AutoText entries transfer from the template to the document, but if you save the new document as yet another template, the AutoText entries are not saved. In this example, saving first_period_test.doc as the template would not retain the original AutoText entries from

Word includes tools for copying and moving AutoText entries in the template organizer (choose Tools/Templates and Add-Ins/Organizer/AutoText). You may want to experiment with this on your own to see the consequences.

Exchanging AutoCorrect lists

Like we mentioned above, unformatted AutoCorrect entries are stored in files ending in acl, and can be moved from machine to machine along with other Office personal information. Formatted AutoCorrect entries are stored in Word's global template, Formatted entries include the obvious – entries with bold, italic, or colored text, for example – but drawings, clip art, and MathType equations are also included in the formatted list.

Note: These procedures apply only to exchanging AutoCorrect lists between machines of the same platform – Windows to Windows or Macintosh to Macintosh. You can't exchange AutoCorrect lists between platforms.

Finding and moving the unformatted list. (For Macintosh, see below for specific file names.) The unformatted AutoCorrect list is saved in a file named MSO****.acl, where the asterisks are replaced with a 4-digit language code. For example, this file listing shows two AutoCorrect lists:

The AutoCorrect list named MSO1033.acl is the English U.S. list, and the list named MSO2057.acl is the English U.K. list. You can see a complete list of Language ID Reference Numbers at the Microsoft Web site. To move your AutoCorrect list to a different computer, or to share it with a colleague, all you need to do is to copy the MSO****.acl file (most likely MSO1033.acl) to the other computer. It's a good idea to back up the existing AutoCorrect list on the other computer before you load the new file. (To back up the old file, all that's necessary is to rename the file to an easily identifiable name, so you can change it back if you want. We suggest renaming it MSO1033acl.bak.)

Your AutoCorrect lists could be located in one of several places, depending on your operating system, and whether your computer has multiple profiles (i.e., multiple logons or multiple personalities). In general, the file is located in your Windows folder at this path: Windows\Application Data\Microsoft\Office\MSO1033.acl.  If you have difficulty locating it, click Start/Search/For files or folders, then enter a new search for "MSO*.acl" (without the quotes). (A shortcut for the search function is to hold down the "Windows" key on the keyboard and press F.)

For Macintosh users: The AutoCorrect list will have various names, depending on the version of Word you're using. For Word 2001, the name is "MS Office ACL [English]" (or other language), but all versions of Word for Macintosh use at least the characters ACL in the file name. Word 2001's ACL file is located in your Preferences folder, in the Microsoft subfolder. If you can't find it, you should be able to find it with Sherlock or Finder (Cmd+F). The formatted list is saved in your global template, just as it is with Word for Windows.

Finding and moving the formatted list. As we mentioned earlier, the AutoCorrect list containing the formatted entries is saved in your global template, named We don't recommend copying to another machine, or renaming Both of these actions would normally be required to copy or move your formatted AutoCorrect list, but fortunately there's an easier way. Dave Rado, a Microsoft Word MVP, has written a macro to backup or move both your formatted and unformatted AutoCorrect lists. The macro is attached to a Word template titled, which can be downloaded from the Word MVP Web site:


The basic Tip provided two examples for your practice. Here is an additional example to reinforce what you learned here. Even if you teach a different level of math than the three examples deal with, work through them anyway. They will provide good experience in using AutoCorrect and AutoText with MathType.

Example 3:

You are writing a paper on the motion of ferris wheels, and you want to take advantage of today's weather to do it. Since it's rainy outside, you can't get over to the amusement park to time the ride, so you want to stay inside and write the paper. You know the motion can be represented with the equation

y = a\sin (bt - c) + d

so you decide to insert this generic equation into the paper now, and after you get a chance to time the ride and get the ride's dimensions from the operator, you can finish the paper by substituting the correct, specific equation for the generic one. This would be just a simple substitution, if it weren't for the fact that the equation will appear perhaps a dozen times in the 20-page paper. You decide to insert the generic equation as an AutoText field code (see above). Later you can edit the AutoText entry with the correct equation, update the field codes, and print.

Try it out: Open Microsoft Word. Use MathType to insert the ferris wheel's motion equation into a blank document:

y = 100\sin \frac{\pi }{{15}} + 105

Make an AutoText entry for this equation, and title it ferris. Open the file ferris.doc in Word. (Right-click or Ctrl-click and save the file to your hard drive before opening it.) If you are using Word for Windows, the file should open normally and the equations should look fine. If you are using Word for Macintosh the equations won't look right, but we'll fix that later. Select the entire document (either Edit/Select All, Ctrl+A, or Cmd+A), then press the F9 key on the keyboard. The F9 key is the Word shortcut key to update fields. Since the equation was inserted with fields, the update will replace the old AutoText "ferris" with the new one. (It doesn't matter that you didn't have an AutoText entry for "ferris" when you started; it should work anyway unless you try to update the fields before you add the equation to AutoText as described.) After you press F9, you'll see there is still one more thing to do: correctly align each of the equations within the document. Fortunately there's an easy way to do that. In Word for Windows, select Convert Equations from the MathType menu. In the Convert Equations dialog, select "Convert equations to: MathType equations (OLE objects)", and click Convert. (In Word for Macintosh, select Update Equations from the Tools menu. In the Update Equations dialog, select "Updated equation type MathType Equation", and click Update.) This will correct the equation placement.


In addition to what you learned in the "AutoCorrect basics" Application Note, you now know that:

  • AutoCorrect substitutions take effect immediately upon typing a "word terminator", whereas Word requires at least the first 4 characters of an AutoText entry before offering to make the substitution.
  • Since AutoCorrect substitutions are immediate, AutoText is better suited for substitutions you may not want to make every time.
  • With AutoText, you can make global substitutions in a document.
  • You can use both AutoCorrect and AutoText to insert drawings and clip art, but they must first be converted to inline objects or inserted into a placeholder (such as a frame or text box).
  • You can exchange both AutoText and AutoCorrect lists with colleagues or transfer them to another computer you own. It's generally easier to do this with AutoText than AutoCorrect.

We hope these Tips on Word's automatic correction features have been of use to you. Please explore our other MathType Tips & Tricks.

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